Welcome!

My name is Will Duchon. I live in Stratford, CT.


In 2003 I encountered Mr. Shane Watson, who is currently serving a 25 year to life sentence for second-degree murder. After careful review of the case transcripts, police reports, trial transcripts and other documentation, it became clear that Shane is not guilty of this crime. His case is an example of flawed "eyewitness" testimony, an incredibly flimsy prosecution, and essentially a travesty of justice. Shane is 49 years old, and has been in prison since 1993.



Along with some dedicated friends from Pleasantville Presbyterian Church in Pleasantville, NY, Monroe Congregational Church in Monroe, CT, the fine attorney Robert Boyle of New York City, and our dedicated investigator Doug Walters of Chicago, I am seeking to have Shane's conviction overturned so that ultimately, he will be free to enjoy his life.



This blog is simply a way to share Shane's story as well as new and current information regarding his case. I encourage you to read the posts that describe the details of his case. It is also an opportunity to learn about how flawed the criminal justice system is.

For details of the Shane Watson case, please read the SUMMARY by our investigator, Doug Walters.






Thank you for visiting.
































































Friday, April 11, 2014

Still Waiting

"Wait for the Lord! Be strong and let your heart take courage!" 
   -Psalm 27


As we continue to wait for what will hopefully be good news from Judge Price, let's keep Shane, Paula and their family in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you to EVERYONE who has supported this effort since 2004. May our persistence yield joy.

Peace,
will

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Waiting for The Lord

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
-Psalm 27:14
 
 
 
On the back of each envelope containing a letter from Shane, he writes a scripture passage. I received a letter today with the passage from Psalm 27 written on the back.
 
As we continue to wait for Judge Price's decision we take heart and stay strong. Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Shane.
 

 




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Quiet Days

We are still waiting, hoping and praying for Judge Price's decision on the motion hearings. There is no way to know when Judge Price will deliver his decision. In the meantime, the best we can do is to continue to keep Shane in our prayers, and continue to share his story.

I came into contact with Shane in 2003, very unexpectedly. A radio program on WBAI-FM (hosted by the late Al Lewis, "Grandpa" from the 1960's sitcom "The Munsters") invited listeners to send in a postcard with your name and address, so that an inmate might have the opportunity to correspond with someone on the outside for moral support. I sent in a postcard with my name and address, and 11 years later here we are, waiting for a judge's decision. This could never have been possible without the work of Robert Boyle, Doug Walters, and the support of many of what Shane calls "the team". Why not send a note of encouragement to Shane? It only takes a few minutes to do, and feels much better than playing with a smart phone or watching TV.

Shane's address:

Mr. Shane Watson
DIN 93A9384
c/o Fishkill Correctional Facility
PO Box 1245
Beacon, NY
 
 
 
Thank you.
 
 
Shane and Paula Watson


Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Acceptable Fast

 
 
 
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.
 
Isaiah 58:6-9
 
This morning in church the scripture reading included one of my favorite chapters of Isaiah, chapter 58. It is in this chapter that the prophet speaks out against empty ceremonies and rituals, against paying lip service to God's call. This chapter shatters illusions (delusions) of grandeur on a personal and corporate level. These words of Isaiah, written 800 years before Jesus' birth cry out angrily against the sanctimonious people of Israel, but how much more relevant these words are, here in the land of misguided values and soul-less endeavors, here in the USA of 2014: 
 
“Cry aloud, spare not,
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
 Yet they seek me daily,
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness    and did not forsake the ordinance of their God...
 
 
As we continue to wait for Judge Price's decision on whether or not to grant Shane Watson a new trial
let us continue to hope that Judge Price will be led to make what Isaiah describes as the acceptable fast:
If you take away from the midst of you the yoke,    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.

By choosing to right a terrible wrong, Judge Price can create "light in the darkness". This light, God's love, outshines any ceremony or ritual. It creates healing and is worth more than a thousand empty words.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Shane Watson.





Monday, January 20, 2014

Words from Shane

Here are some excerpts from a letter I received from Shane, dated January 13, 2014:

"It won't be long now and next Christmas will be very different. Amen ! (God willing). We already know that He is willing because He is good and wouldn't have brought me this far and not finish it. For His Glory! (Hallelujah)."

"I was just reminded of how blessed we are to still have our mothers. A guy here just lost his mother the other day. They are both Muslims. We've only got one! Amen!"

"I think it will be Seattle vs. Denver in the Super Bowl".

"I go to the gym and mainly watch basketball games because it's too crowded for me to really work out. So I work out at the dorm. They have a porch where we can do pull-ups and dips and push-ups."

"I am holding on,(and) looking forward to any day now for that good news from a foreign land. I've been doing my homework on (similar) cases, and it takes anywhere from three months after the hearing to usually get relief. (Hallelujah). I am reminded almost every mail day that I am not forgotten and in many prayers. Amen! (Hallelujah).

Today (January 20) the country celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. How fitting it would be to have a positive decision come down from Judge Price now, as we recall Dr. King's work and message about equality and justice.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.




Thursday, January 2, 2014

Prison Ministry

Several years ago I wrote this brief guide to "prison ministry", as an idea/proposal for discussion groups and also to share Shane Watson's story. I reprint it here, (updated for accuracy) as a means of stimulating conversation and thought about a subject easily overlooked by church and civic organizations.



There but For the Grace of God Go I: Prison Ministry

Will Duchon
 

To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good and no-one in his right mind will believe this today.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) French novelist, essayist and dramatist. 
 

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American naturalist, poet and philosopher.  

“I am holding on and encouraged each time I hear from you, my brother. Pass my regards on to the family and the “Team”. I love each one of you like family because you all are the true meaning of family.”

Shane Watson (1965- ), inmate at Green Haven Correctional Facility. From a letter to Will Duchon in 2004

  

I. INTRODUCTION: with some personal thoughts on “ministry”, “prison ministry’, statistics and discussion questions.

 

For obvious reasons prison ministry is a specialized form of ministry.  But to begin with, I need to share a sentiment with you.  I am suspicious of anyone who claims to be a “minister. I say this because it seems to me that the essence of “ministry” is most vivid when ministry is understood to be a verb. In this sense, to “minister” is to give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities. One who is truly “doing ministry” is not concerned with being perceived of as a “minister”; others may think of her/him this way, but the question is really unimportant. So to keep it simple, I choose to define the topic of “prison ministry” as simply the act of caring for someone who is in prison. In my visits to Green Haven Correctional Facility, I have witnessed many acts of “prison ministry” performed by people of all ages and races. I doubt these people would define themselves as “ministers”. To the imprisoned men on the receiving end of these visits I am certain that these “ministers” are truly sent from God.
 

Here are some cold statistics which can serve as a foundation for this study. The danger of statistics, of course, is that eventually one loses touch with the fact that these statistics represent actual people. But in order to keep the lofty term “prison ministry” in context, it is important to have a basic idea of what is going on in the United States prison system. So take a few moments to ponder the following statistics, gathered in June of 2006. Let’s preface these statistics with an alarming fact:

The United States imprisons more people than any nation on the planet.

U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2006:

  • Whites: 409 per 100,000
  • Latinos: 1,038 per 100,000
  • Blacks: 2,468 per 100,000

  • Females: 134 per 100,000
  • Males: 1,384 per 100,000
  • White males: 736 per 100,000
  • Latino males: 1,862 per 100,000
  • Black males: 4,789 per 100,000  

 

  • For White males ages 25-29: 1,685 per 100,000.
  • For Latino males ages 25-29: 3,912 per 100,000.
  • For Black males ages 25-29: 11,695 per 100,000. (That's 11.7% of Black men in their late 20s.)

 

These statistics clearly indicate the racial and gender bias permeating the criminal justice system. 
 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:

 

  1. Why do you think prisoners are by far Black and Latino males?
  2. Have you known anyone who has spent time in jail or prison? If so, what are your perceptions of this person? If not, what image do you have of a “prisoner” or “convict”? 

II. SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR DISCUSSION:



Isaiah 58: 6-9 in this passage, the prophet Isaiah warns against empty ritual; and again reflects the essence of ministry.

 
“Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?
 
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
 
“Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
 
“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ 

 

III. “Two gathered in my name...” Personal Reflections and Shane Watson
 

Each person in prison has a story. Each person in prison has a personal history, and a tale to tell. The circumstances surrounding individual cases may vary, but there are probably more similarities than differences. What I have learned from my experience with getting involved in “prison ministry” is that the common themes shared by those incarcerated are these: drugs, lack of education, and poverty.  We talk of the Untied States being the most violent nation on the planet, in terms of the crime rate and the murder rate. I’ve come to believe that poverty is the worst form of violence, because it breeds desperation and loss of hope. 

In 2003 I began my correspondence with Mr. Shane Watson, who is currently serving 25 years to life sentence at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, NY. Over time, many letters and visits, I have come to know Shane very well. He is now 48 years old, a father,  and married to a special woman by the name of Paula  (Prisons allow inmates to marry and even have “honeymoons” of two days together in a trailer on the prison grounds.)  

Shane was convicted of second-degree murder in 1993, related to a shooting in the Bronx, NY in 1991. His case is a perfect example of an eyewitness case; the jury convicted Shane on the basis of the testimony of three eyewitnesses, and their subsequent ID of Shane in photo arrays and lineup procedures at the police precinct. There is no DNA evidence in Shane’s case. The victim, Mark Johnson, was shot three times at 11:30 PM on Schefflein Avenue in the Bronx.  Mr. Johnson’s girlfriend was standing about ten feet away from the victim, and could not identify the shooter. The other “eyewitnesses” gave conflicting statements to the police. None of the eyewitnesses claimed to see the face of the shooter, yet each identified Shane from a photo array and a lineup.
 

This is not the place to delve further into the details of Shane’s case. My point in relating this information is to illustrate a sad reality that exists in the criminal justice system. To me, what makes Shane Watson’s case so compelling is that his case is so “ordinary”. By this I mean, there is no celebrity, no high-priced lawyers, no scandal; just a simple case of the District Attorney’s office wanting to close the case of yet another shooting in the inner city. The victim of the shooting, Mark Johnson, was on parole for a homicide at the time of his death. He was known to be a drug dealer in the neighborhood. The police investigating Mr. Johnson’s death never bothered to check anyone connected to Mr. Johnson’s victim (the person he killed). The police also never bothered searching Shane Watson’s home for a gun or clothing with gunpowder residue. After studying Shane’s case (trial transcripts, police reports, etc.) it is very clear to me that his case is just another example of someone being wrongfully convicted of a crime.
 

While the majority of people in prison are in fact guilty of the crimes they have been convicted of, there are many cases like Shane Watson’s, where due to a flawed prosecution and/or suspect police procedures, someone is serving time having been wrongfully convicted.
 

What does this all have to do with “prison ministry”? I can say that despite the frustration I have encountered in my attempts to exonerate Shane, there has also been much healing and a deepening of friendship between Shane and me. We both talk of our families, and discuss problems and frustrations we have felt as fathers. I have come to know Shane’s mother, Joan, as well as Shane’s wife Paula, and my life has been enriched through these encounters. I have learned to be grateful for my freedom, and the ability to come and go as I please; something Shane has not known for fifteen years now. I can honestly say that in every meeting with Shane at Green Haven, I have felt the quiet presence of God. And when I’ve left the prison and walked through the parking lot to my car, I’ve always wondered who was being “ministered to”; Shane, or me?


 

IV. RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY

 

To begin a prison ministry of your own, I suggest first praying about it. There are several online resources you might investigate: 



Of course, you may also feel free to write to Shane Watson:

 

Din# 93A9384

Fishkill Correctional Facility
Box 1245
Beacon, NY 12508

 

 
For information/statistics about the prison system in the US:
 


 

Finally, there is an excellent book by Alan Elsner titled “Gates of Injustice” which examines the inconsistencies and bias that plague the prison system. Here is a link to Mr. Elsner’s book: 


 

 

I know not whether Laws be right or whether Laws be wrong; all that we know who live in prison is that the wall is strong; and that each day is like a year, a year whose days are long.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet and dramatist.

 

 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, Shane

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John1:5


Today is Christmas, 2013. It is the twentieth Christmas in prison for Shane, but thankfully this Christmas holds much more hope than any since 1993. The motion hearing has concluded and now we wait for Judge Price's decision regarding a new trial.

Shane is currently incarcerated at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, NY. I share with you some of Shane's letter to me dated December 16:

"I believe Judge Price has 90 days to give his decision, but judge's usually don't take that long. It won't be long now, as the hard part is over. Amen! Getting to this point was some ride, and took forever."

"Doug (Doug Walters, our investigator) and I have a basketball game to attend in February (smile). His Celtics vs.my Spurs."

"I wish our hearing could have been on Court TV. Amen!"

"Give everyone my love and let them know that I appreciate all the support. 'Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver' Amen! 2 Corinthians 9:7

your brother and friend,
Shane

P.S. I got access to the gym here as well at least six times a week. Not like Green Haven where one can't get to the gym without knowing someone or paying (unbelievable).

Merry Christmas to all-

Shane's mailing address:
 
Shane Watson
93A9384
c/o Fishkill Correctional Facility
Box 1245
Beacon, NY 12508